Aerial view of Albert Square as it was during the 1980s
|Notable locations||The Queen Victoria|
|Notable characters||EastEnders characters|
Albert Square is the fictional location of the BBC soap opera EastEnders. It is ostensibly located in the equally fictional London borough of Walford in London's East End. The square's design was based on the real life Fassett Square in Hackney, and was given the name Albert Square after the real life history of Prince Albert and the then deprived East End. The public house, The Queen Victoria, was also given its name due to this. One of the key characteristics of the pub is the window twitching by any of the occupants throughout the years. They are often known to look out of the windows, giving a view of the whole Square. This is especially common in dramatic storylines.
Central to the Square are the gardens. The garden is home to Arthur Fowler's bench, which was placed there in memory of him. The bench is also known as the Bench of Tears, as it is often the place where characters will go and cry.
The square is the centre for all of the everyday drama in all of Walford's residents' lives, most of the characters on EastEnders live on the square. Although a major place on the show, there are other places which are used in the show, like the market.
The Queen Victoria public house stands at the west edge of the square, where it joins with Bridge Street. The pub is owned and run by Mick Carter (Danny Dyer), his wife Linda (Kellie Bright) and sister Shirley (Linda Henry). It is number 46. North of the pub on the west edge of Albert Square are several small houses which are occupied by unknown residents, one of which used to be lived in by Ava Hartman (Clare Perkins) and her son Dexter (Khali Best), and north of these the northwest corner leads off to a walkway through to Turpin Road, on which the Walford community centre and playpark are found.
To the south of the Queen Vic, across the junction with Bridge Street, is the Beale house, 45 Albert Square, owned by Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) and currently occupied by him, his wife Jane Beale (Laurie Brett), his sons Peter (Ben Hardy) and Bobby (Eliot Carrington), Peter's half sister Cindy Williams (Mimi Keene), and Cindy's infant daughter Beth. In the southwest corner of the square is number 41, the Masood house, owned and occupied by Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra), along with his son Tamwar Masood (Himesh Patel) and daughter Shabnam Masood (Rakhee Thakrar).
On the south edge of the square there are two raised houses, 19-20 Albert Square, both owned by Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) and Kim Fox-Hubbard (Tameka Empson). The house is occupied by Patrick, Kim and Kim's sister Denise Fox (Diane Parish). It was previously Walford's B&B, 'Kim's Palace', but when Kim extended her time away Patrick closed the business, unable to cope with the running alone. Next door to the old B&B is Phil Mitchell's (Steve McFadden) house, number 55, where he lives with wife Sharon (Letitia Dean), his son Ben (Harry Reid), her son Dennis (Harry Hickles), and Phil's adopted son Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick). A road heads off the square south between Patrick and Phil's houses.
A row of five terraced houses line the east edge of Albert Square. The southernmost house, number 31, famously belonged to Pat Butcher (Pam St. Clement) and on her death was passed on to her daughter-in-law Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson), who currently lives there with her daughter Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy), her grandson Liam Butcher (James Forde) and adopted granddaughter Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty). The property next door is split into two flats, one of which previously belonged to Carol's brother Jack Branning (Scott Maslen). Number 27 has passed hands a number of times, having belonged to Phil, Tanya Branning (Jo Joyner) and Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks), and currently belongs to Phil's cousins Ronnie (Samantha Womack) and Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons). Number 25, a council house, has been the home of Dot Cotton (also Branning, played by June Brown) for over twenty years. She currently lives there with her lodger and friend Fatboy. Dot's Grandson Charlie (Declan Bennett) lives both here and at Number 27, where his fiance Ronnie lives. The northernmost property in the terrace, number 23, was the home of Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) and his family until it was destroyed in September 2014 by a huge fire; they are currently homeless as a family.
On the north edge of Albert Square is another terrace of three elevated properties. Max Branning (Jake Wood) owns and lives in number 5, the most easterly, next door to his car lot, 'Deals on Wheels', with daughters Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa) and Abi Branning (Lorna Fitzgerald). A road leaves to the east at the northeast edge of the square, passing by the car lot. The most westerly of this terrace is the old doctor's surgery, which has seen GP tenants including Anthony Trueman (Nicholas Bailey), May Wright (Amanda Drew) and Yusef Khan (Ace Bhatti) but is currently inactive. The flat above is rented by Cora Cross (Ann Mitchell) and Dexter Hartman.
Albert Square within the EastEnders set
The exterior set for the fictional Albert Square is located in the permanent backlot of the BBC Borehamwood building, near to Elstree Studios Hertfordshire, at and is outdoors and open to the weather. The main buildings on the square consisted originally of hollow shells, constructed from marine plywood facades mounted onto steel frames. The lower walls, pavements, etc., are constructed of real brick and tarmac. The walls were intentionally built crooked to give them an aged appearance. The drains around the set are real so rain water can naturally flow from the streets. The square was built in two phases with only three sides being built, plus Bridge Street, to begin with in 1984, in time to be used for the show's first episode, which was aired on 19 February 1985. The fourth side of the square plus further expansion to the exterior set was completed in 1987 with a further, final, expansion in 1993. Most of the buildings on Albert Square have no interior filming space, with a few exceptions, and most do not have rears or gardens. Most areas by the front (and sometimes back) doors are decorated and dressed to match the interior set to allow shots of doors being opened.
The set was expanded further to include George Street, more shops and the tube station in 1992 in order to create further locations when EastEnders went from two to three episodes per week in 1993. The newer exterior sets including fish & chip shop, video shop and beauty salon have some interior filming space to create a greater sense of realism. As the show is filmed up to six weeks in advance, the trees need to have extra leaves stuck on them during the spring to make them look like they would in summer.
In February 2008 it was reported that Albert Square would transfer to Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, where a new set will be built as the current set is looking rather shabby, with its flaws showing up on high-definition television broadcasts. However, by April 2010 a follow-up report confirmed that Albert Square would remain at Elstree Studios for at least another four years, taking the set through its 25th anniversary. The set was consequently rebuilt for high definition on the same site, using mostly real brick with some areas using a new improved plastic brick. Throughout rebuilding filming would still take place, and so scaffolding was often seen on screen during the process, with some story lines written to accommodate the rebuilding, such as the Queen Vic fire. In January 2014 the BBC announced on the EastEnders website that the set has been approved to be expanded by twenty percent, on the same site, with a temporary set to be constructed to be used for filming while the current set is expanded.
- "Welcome to Albert Square". Inside Soap. 12–18 July 2014.
- Kilkelly, Daniel. "EastEnders reveals dramatic September storylines". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
- Sets too shabby for latest TVs force EastEnders out of town Times Online
- EastEnders to stay at Elstree Studios Guardian
- "EastEnders set expansion". BBC.
- BBC - EastEnders
- BBC map of Albert Square
- Fassett Square - "The original inspiration for EastEnders".